Home >> Trees-worth-knowing-1922 >> The Redwood S to Yulan Magnolia >> The Yellow Wood

The Yellow Wood


Cladrastis lutea, K. Koch.

The yellow-wood was named by the wife of a pioneer, surely, for she soaked the chips and got from them a clear yellow dye, highly prized for the permanent color it gave to her homespun cotton and woolen cloth that must have gone colorless, but for dyestuffs discoverable in the woods.

The satiny grain of the wood, and its close hard texture, commended it to the woodsman, who used it for gun stocks. But the tree is too small to be important for the lumber it yields.

In winter the smooth pale bark of the "Virgilia," as the nurseryman calls it, reminds one of the rind of the beech. The broad rounded head, often borne on three or more spreading stems, is formed of drooping graceful branches, ending in brittle twigs. Summer clothes these twigs with a light airy covering of compound leaves, of seven to eleven broadly oval leaflets, on a stalk less than a foot in length. In autumn, the foliage turns yellow.

White flowers, pea-like, delicate, fragrant, in clusters a foot long, and so loose that the flowers seem to drip from the twig ends, drape the tree in white about the middle of June, when the young leaves show many tints of green to form a background for the blossoms.

This is the supreme moment of the year for one of the most charming of trees, in any park that cherishes one of these virgilias. In the wilds of eastern Tennessee, northern Alabama, and central Kentucky the species is found in scattered places. But the wild trees have scant food and they show it. The full beauty of the species is seen only in cultivation, as one sees it in the Arnold Arboretum, and in private gardens near Boston. Even the little pods, thin, satiny pointed, add a harmonious note of beauty, their silvery fawn color blending with the quiet Quaker drab worn by the tree all winter. Fortunately, this hardy beautiful parktree is easily raised from seeds and from root cuttings. It thrives on soil of many different kinds. It has no bad habits, no superior, and few equals among flowering trees.

tree, trees and leaves